Often I'm asked about my philosophy about children. I tell people that children need unconditional love, a love that doesn’t depend upon making the Honor Roll or winning a football game. We should love them simply because they are our children. Parents must practice the “separate the deed from the doer” principle. If their teen is taking drugs, they can say, “I love your basic substance, but I can literally spit on your drug behavior. It won’t be tolerated. So, here’s what I’m going to do.”
Children begin their world by loving their parents. They‘re both malleable and vulnerable. Great child psychologists like Haim Ginot and Piaget used to compare them to blank sheets of paper ready to be written on. They’re like wet cement, whatever falls on them makes an impression. A tiny, green worm inching its way across the sidewalk may captivate them more than a brand new $600 swing set assembled in the backyard. When they leave the nest, they’ll remember not the material things we gave them, but the feeling that they were cherished.
To me, the innocence of small children is closest to some supreme divinity, just like small planets that are nearest the sun. Their candidness and honesty is yet restrained by social taboos. Years ago, I had difficulty evaluating a preschool girl for early entrance. She remained pokerfaced as the evaluation began, so I stopped the testing to establish rapport. When I asked her if she had any questions, her brown eyes grew wide and she innocently asked, “Why are you so fat and what’s that fur under your nose? My daddy’s skinny and he shaves his fur off.” Once I explained about overeating and that it’s OK for men to grow mustaches, she became communicative and performed quite well on the evaluation, although she curiously gawked at my “fur“ the entire time.
I’d say most of the truth-telling in the world is done by children.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at BGSU. He now writes the online Spy series "Corey Pearson, CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean".